Schizoanalysis


scotland-ezine-may2005-francis-bacon-imageIn a very nice response to my post on Schizoanalysis and Psychoanalysis, Ian writes,

Point taken, I hope my response was not taken too strongly, perhaps my wording of it was poor. I agree with you that portraying lack as simply a production of the analyst is inadequate and the remarks on fascism in Anti-Oedipus would seem to suggest that Deleuze and Guattari would agree. But I can’t help but wonder, and this is a personal thought, that the absence of any real mechanical discussion concerning the production of castrated subjects is not a low-point on the part of Deleuze and Guattari, but is rather their resistance towards any kind of metapsychology. No doubt they play some favor towards a kind of transcendental field, but, at least in Anti-Oedipus, I’m not as convinced that this transcendental field exists apart from the social field in any defined sense; the transcendental field (say, the body-without-organs) does not transcend the social field created from it. I would be very skeptical towards the idea that Deleuze and Guattari are after some kind of reinvigorated Plato or Kant.

That said, and possibly this is in part due to personal bias, I don’t see it as any fault of Deleuze and Guattari that this metapsychology is not accounted for; I think it rather a strength. Much of Guattari’s “clinical” work is based around stripping from analysis any kind of metapsychology that would give instruction as to the manner within which affirmative desires are coded into repressive desires, instead being concerned with how to provided an arena for the expressions of desire as political action. I would guess (and this is always dangerous) that Deleuze and Guattari would hastily resist any kind of metapsychology of this process or interaction between analysand and analyst, as if to finally diagnose the real problem. Thus my question, do you think the metapsychology or ‘transcendental analysis’ you are looking for can contain the intersection between Deleuze and Guattari and Lacan that you wrote about, or might it, rather, “cross out” the ‘avec’ between schizoanalysis and psychoanalysis? Could this transcendental analysis of the creation of castrated subjects in fact be a recoding attempting to produce a universal trajectory for a process that has formally the same outcome, but might always takes place in highly “individualized,” contextualized means?

Despite this all, I think you’re on to something and my personal biases towards the aims of the book shouldn’t detract from admitting its shortcomings. Even suggesting that castration could be intimately contextual still sidesteps the question of the mechanics of that production. Very interested in your thoughts.

I suppose, for the sake of clarity, I should explain just what I mean by the transcendental, just so it’s clear that we’re talk about the same thing. The great enemy of Deleuze’s thought, of course, was the transcendent. In his earliest work, this can be seen in his critique of anything resembling Platonic form or unchanging essences, but also of his critique of the self-identical subject as in the case of Descartes’ cogito. Deleuze’s thought begins from the position that, on the one hand, all being is becoming and therefore is the result of a production or a process of individuation. In Difference and Repetition he will perpetually emphasize that individuation is not the individual insofar as individuation is the differential process by which the individual is produced. Likewise, he will staunchly oppose any position that begins from an unchanging identity whether in the form of the subject or God, as well as any position that posits invariant and ahistorical forms. Deleuze is, above all, a process philosopher.

However, the transcendental is not the transcendent. Rather, the transcendental, following Kant, refers to a set of conditions thoroughly immanent to being. While it is certainly the case that Kant is one of Deleuze’s philosophical enemies, there is nonetheless a deep Kantian inspiration or influence in Deleuze’s thought. However, Deleuze radicalizes or transforms the Kantian position in three ways: First, where Kant’s transcendental merely conditions the field of sensibility, imposing a priori (and invariant) forms on the matter of sensation, Deleuze’s transcendental conditions are genetic conditions. As Deleuze will emphasizes endlessly, the virtual or transcendental, unlike Kant’s transcendental, does not resemble the actual, but instead as a set of genetic potentials that produces something entirely new in the course of being actualized. Deleuze will take Kant and many other transcendental philosophers to task for “tracing the transcendental from the empirical”, which amounts to both a circular argument (the conditions are supposed to account for the conditioned, yet we arrive at the condition by tracing them from the conditioned), and to arriving at the transcendental based on its resemblance to the actual or the condition. fractal_4-blueThus we get a strange sort of operation where we begin with the actualized object of experience, trace its abstract form from this object, and then treat this abstract form as an a priori, invariant, ahistorical necessity, effectively covering over any process of production, becoming, or genesis and treating philosophy as an apologetics for the status quo. Only a genetic account of the relation between the transcendental and the field of material being can, according to Deleuze, break out of this vicious circle. In this connection, the transcendental will share no resemblance to individuated entities.

Second, where Kant locks the transcendental or condition in a transcendental subject (the ultimate form of identity), Deleuze instead theorizes the existence of a transcendental field where, as you rightly point out, subjects are actualized, individuated, or produced, rather than presiding over actualization emerging from subject’s as in the case of Kant. The transcendental field is something anterior to the subject and far more extensive than the domain of the subject. If, as Meillassoux argues in After Finitude, correlationism is intrinsically tied to a subject of some sort such that the world would not exist were there not a subject, Deleuze’s transcendental fields would exist regardless of whether there were any humans or living entities. Finally third, and in a closely related vein, Deleuze’s transcendental genetic conditions (the virtual) are not a product of mind, but rather belong to being or existence itself (I develop this thesis in greater detail in my forthcoming article “Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism: Notes Towards a Transcendental Materialism” in Thinking Between Deleuze and Kant: A Strange Encounter with Continuum, edited by Edward Willat and Matt Lee). You can find a more thorough development of Deleuze’s transcendental field and the difference between the transcendent and the transcendental in my book Difference and Givenness: Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence, Northwestern University Press.

venus-in-furs01An excellent example of the necessity of the transcendental and the transcendental field can be found in Deleuze’s essay on Masoch and Sade, Coldness and Cruelty. There, Deleuze, like Lacan (Lacan actually praises this book as the finest study of sadism and masochism yet to be written in seminar 13 or 14), rigorously argues against the thesis that the sadist and the masochist are complementary, such that the perfect partner for any masochist is the sadist and the perfect partner for any sadist is a masochist. Deleuze skillfully demonstrates that sadism and masochism are completely different assemblages and have entirely different geneses through which they are actualized. However, here’s the key point: So long as we remain at the level of actualized entities– at the level of what Deleuze had referred to as “species, parts, and qualities” in Difference and Repetition –this is impossible to see or understand. When we look at the sadist and masochist we will note that the one likes giving pain and the other likes receiving it (empiricist positivism), and will therefore conclude that the structure of the two is complementary. Based on their spatialized resemblances to one another– that they both appear to belong to the common species “human” –we will assume they belong to the same relational network, embody the same singularities, and embody the same differential relations. It is only when we reach the dimension of the virtual or transcendental field, the dimension of singularities (potentials) and their differential relations, that we can begin to discern that these two forms of life and desire are entirely different assemblages with very different organizations that are in no way complementary.

fig181If beginning with the actualized entities leads to this impasse, then this is because, as Deleuze had carefully argued in chapter 4 of Difference and Repetition (and elsewhere), difference erases or veils itself in the process of being actualized, such that we’re left with species, parts, and qualities (the end results of the process of indi-different/ciation), rather than the process of individuation or differentiation through which these elements are formed. Another way of putting this would be to say that we fall into spatialized difference or multiplicities, where everything resembles everything else. Deleuze consistently charges Kant (as well as a number of the phenomenologists), with tracing the transcendental from the empirical and then finding resemblances where there are none. Only the virtual, he argues, can save us from this fate. What is revealed in his study of Sacher-Masoch and Sade is that the two occupy entirely different topological spaces. This is part, I think, of what interests Deleuze in Francis Bacon in texts like The Logic of Sensation. It could be said that Bacon attempts to directly paint the virtual field of forces and singularities rather than the empirical objects among which we dwell.

blue-velvet-earWith this caveats in mind, I would argue that Deleuze and Guattari’s Deleuze’s three synthesis– the syntheses of connection, disjunction, and conjunction –constitute the beginnings of a transcendental analysis. Indeed, these syntheses Kant’s three syntheses of apprehension, reproduction, and recognition in the “A” edition of the Deduction in the Critique of Pure Reason, however, beginning from difference rather than identity. Moreover, where Kant’s syntheses pertain to operations of the mind, Deleuze and Guattari’s three syntheses belong to being as such. It is on the ground of these distinctions that Deleuze and Guattari are able to unfold their critique in the five paralogisms, for each of these paralogisms pertains to an illicit tracing of the transcendental from the empirical, where fully actualized objects are projected back into the machinic unconscious as forms. Deleuze and Guattari, by contrast, will show how desiring-machines only operate on partial objects, not fully formed persons, thereby undercutting a number of claims from orthodox psychoanalysis. In this regard, Deleuze and Guattari enact their own “return to Freud”, though one which certainly transforms Freud. As Freud had argued, the unconscious knows no negation, contradiction, opposition, or objects, but instead only knows connections and productions. This was the surprising result he had already attained in his early unpublished Project essay, where the functioning of the primary process becomes unmoored from any sort of representational realism or instinctual and natural relation to sexuality. Yet somehow all of this falls apart with the introduction of the Oedipus where, instead of relating to partial objects and flows, the primary attachment becomes an attachment to fully formed objects (the father, mother, brother, sister, etc.). Nonetheless, Deleuze and Guattari do not give much in the way of an analysis of just how these paralogisms are possible from the standpoint of active and affirmative desire. Here we would need to look to Nietzsche and Philosophy, as well as, I believe, the work of Lacan. We can thus think of the relationship between schizoanalysis and Lacanian psychoanalysis as being like two sides of a severed egg. The latter explores the domain of the actual and all of its illusions, coupled with their genesis and strategies for escaping these sad passions premised on an installed lack and castration (for Lacan it was always a question of moving beyond these things as I argue in my post on the Borromean knots), whereas Deleuze and Guattari explore the productive realm of the unconscious and its desiring-machines perpetually manufacturing the real.

Advertisements

Ecosophy over at Soft Subversions has written a very interesting riff on my post about the relationship between Guattari and Lacan:

In his personal diary (published in The Anti-Œdipus Papers) the self-styled schizoanalyst Felix Guattari details a meeting with Jacques Lacan (whose method of psychoanalysis Guattari trained in) prior to the publication of Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Œdipus. In the meeting, Guattari articulated his concerns about psychoanalysis: “The point is to know if analysts will be agents of the established order or if they will stand up to their political responsibilities.” According to Guattari, Lacan replied: “I don’t care if there are any analysts. I’ve spent my whole life denouncing them.” Lacan’s point was that, by making this demand, Guattari was revealing his desire for a political form of psychoanalysis. What we find in Guattari’s work is not a desire to cure (a desire met with disapproval in Lacan’s essay ’Variations on the Standard Treatment’), but a desire to militate.

In schizoanalysis we are not, of course, negating the dominance of the effects of the castration complex. For Freud, this complex is desire that blocks itself, scares itself… But blocks itself on what? The body… Neurotics hang onto remainders, recompose rites, on their own bodies, and the Oedipus. (The Anti-Œdipus Papers, p.123-4)

The political responsibility which Guattari places on the analyst is to not allow the neurotic patient to recompose Oedipal rites on their bodies. This view can be easily translated back into Freud’s own vocabulary of binding and primary and secondary processes. If primary processes are bound on the body of Oedipus in a secondary process, then the analyst’s political responsibility is to avoid reifying Oedipus into a transcendent structure within which the individual finds a position. This is a political responsibility because it is the reification of Oedipus which then allows capitalism to suppress desire for its own purposes. For this reason, Guattari places the concept of “assemblage” (which implies a temporary, nomadic formation) in opposition to Freud’s use of the term “complex”. Perhaps a productive dialogue may begin between Guattari’s work and recent, psychoanalytically-informed political theory (Laclau, Zizek, Butler et cetera) if we found a way to talk of an Oedipal assemblage, but not a reified Oedipal complex.

Read the rest here.

Ecosophy puts the issue brilliantly– truly brilliantly –when he remarks that perhaps it would be possible to open a more fruitful dialogue between psychoanalytically inflected political theories and schizoanalysis were the question to be posed in terms of Oedipal assemblages (or in my language, networks) rather than Oedipal structures (cf. my post on this distinction here). One of the major accomplishments of Anti-Oedipus was both the linkage of Oedipal networks to the broader social and historical context, showing how the formation of subjectivity is not a private family affair, and their demonstration in chapter 3 that kinship and socio-political organization take on very different structures, are organized by very different machines, in different periods.

Here Deleuze and Guattari are targeting a central psychoanalytic dogma surrounding the transcendence and eternality of Oedipal structure. If this issue is of crucial importance, then this is because where the Oedipus is treated as a transcendent structure, were faced with what Lacan called a “forced vel of alienation”. That is, we’re faced with an either/or alternative where either choice is bad and the only choice is the lesser of two evils. In the case of treating Oedipus as a structure, were faced with a choice where, just as we must choose our life when the mugger says “your money or your life”, therefore sacrificing our jouissance, Oedipal structure gives us the stark alternative of neurotic resignation to castration or incoherent psychosis. In other words, we can choose meaning (the order of the signifier and the social) or being (jouissance), but cannot have both. As a consequence, the Oedipus becomes an apologetics for both capitalist structure and a support for the reigning status quo: “Either you accept neurosis and the reigning social order or you fall into anarchic and mute psychosis!”

I have encountered this myself in discussions with Lacanians. Thus, a year ago I got into it with two prominent Lacanians over whether or not other discourses beyond Lacan’s four were possible, and whether or not there were other forms of social organization not premised on the masculine and feminine graphs of sexuation with respect to the real and jouissance. Much to my surprise I was informed that these structures are eternal– like Platonic forms –and then that “other structures are not needed even if they are possible”, despite clear textual evidence to the contrary that Lacan himself envisioned the possibility of other discourse relations and saw neurosis as something unique to contemporary kinship structures. In other words, there was an extreme hostility to the treatment of these things as assemblages that, by virtue of being assemblages, could be changed and reorganized in a variety of ways.

In my view, the advantage of treating the Oedipus as an assemblage rather than as a structure is two-fold. On the one hand, it opens the possibility of other social formations, significantly increasing the number of political possibilities on the table. On the other hand, it responds to certain shortcomings I believe to be at work in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus. Based on my understanding, Anti-Oedipus poses the right question– “why do people will their own oppression” –and even gives the right answer– because of Oedipal or paranoid social structure –but it fails to give an adequate genetic or morphological account of just how subjects come to be Oedipalized or to accept the Oedipal order. If, as Deleuze and Guattari rightly argue, desire is productive, affirmative, and perpetually mobile, how does it come to occur that desiring-machines come to experience themselves as subjects, experience themselves as lacking, experience themselves as castrated, and yearn for a master? I’ve read Anti-Oedipus up and down and I simply can’t, for the life of me, find an answer to this question. The closest we get is something that sounds as if it is blaming theorists that discuss lack, castration, and the self-identical subject for these things. However, if 1) we can theorize Oedipal assemblages, and 2) we can give an account of how lack is manufactured or produced within affirmative and connective desire, then we can begin to build such an account and develop strategies for undermining this structure. The mistake, which is all too common among Deleuzians, lies in thinking that the illusions of lack and negation do not nonetheless have real effects and consequences. No doubt this mistake arises from a failure to read Kant on the topic of transcendental illusions.

In response to my post “Deleuze and Guattari avec Lacan“, Reid asks “What is the Borromean Clinic?” I confess that I am working through this myself, so I do not have a completely adequate answer. In many respects, this is the most and dense and difficult period of Lacan’s teaching, but it is also a period where he completely exceeds what he had developed in prior years, developing both an entirely new diagnostic system and new possibilities for the end of analysis.

In his Borromean period, Lacan shifts to a topology of the subject based on the borromean knot:

bringsbig

The first thing to notice with this curious knot is that no two of the rings are directly tied together as in the case of a Hopf chain:

chain

Consequently, in the borromean knot, if any one of the rings are severed the other two rings fall away as well. In short, the consistence of the borromean knot arises only from the knotting of the three and the manner in which the strings pass over and under one another in the proper way. Lacan equated each of the three rings with one of his three orders– the real, the symbolic, and the imaginary (RSI) –corresponding to the order of ex-sistence (the real) or that which exists outside the symbolic, the order of the hole or lack introduced into being (the symbolic), and the order of consistency (the imaginary). However, it will be noted that each of the rings overlaps with the others forming points of intersection with the other rings like a Venn diagram:

borromeo1

Consequently, we can think the different orders together getting various combinations between the elements. Thus, for example, there can be a hole in the real, just as there is an ex-sistence in the symbolic (the letter as opposed to the signifier). Likewise, there can be a consistence in the symbolic (meaning), just as there can be a hole in the imaginary. And so on. As I said, I am still working through this myself, so I have not yet worked out the implications of all this.

Read on
(more…)

guattari

In what sense can Guattari’s thought be understood as a radicalization of Lacanian psychoanalysis? And what does it mean to say that Guattari’s thought is a radicalization of Lacanian psychoanalysis? First, to characterize Guattari’s relationship to Lacan as a radicalization of Lacanian thought is not to claim that Guattari was an orthodox Lacanian. Rather, Guattari’s schizoanalysis is a radicalization of psychoanalysis in the sense that Hegel is a radicalization of Kant or Spinoza is a radicalization of Descartes. Just as Hegel and Spinoza deeply transform the thought and projects of their most important predecessors, Guattari significantly transforms Lacanian thought. However, before such a question can even be posed it is first necessary to determine just where Deleuze and Guattari share common ground with Lacan.

While it is certainly true that Guattari transforms Lacan’s thought in radical ways, it is also true that this relationship between the two has been presented as being one that is deeply antagonistic and hostile. Nietzsche pointed out that we arrive at the perspective of substance ontology, that there are substantial things composed of predicates, due to a set of illusions produced through language where words create the belief that there are unchanging things corresponding to these words. In the secondary literature on Deleuze and Guattari, one gets the sense that something similar occurs with reference to psychoanalysis. Often psychoanalysis is treated as if it is a monolithic entity, as the arch-enemy, characterized by homogeneity, despite the fact that psychoanalysis is characterized by a heterogeneous diversity of different schools and orientations often at odds with one another.

This is extremely odd for two reasons: First, it is odd that followers of the champions of difference would require identity in their enemy. It is as if somehow the ontological claim of the ontological primacy of multiplicities gets entirely forgotten and the target gets reduced to a molar and simplified identity without heterogeneous vectors and tendencies of its own. Second, it is especially odd that American Deleuzians seem so intent on toppling psychoanalysis, as if it were the most pressing political struggle within the American situation. Psychoanalysis is hardly anywhere to be found in the United States at the level of practice or predominant theory. Indeed, what we instead get in the States is the complete exorcism of the subject from the clinical setting, treating diagnostic categories as if they were natural kinds and signs, the ignorance of anything like a symptom, and a therapy that tends to be premised on the normalization of its patients so that they might tolerate normal, married, heterosexual conjugal relations, go to work and produce, and be good little consumers. One would think that were Deleuzians looking for a worthy project along the lines of Anti-Oedipus, they would begin not with psychoanalysis– which at least provides the possibility of providing a space where all that resists the “normal” might at least be enunciated, where the treatment isn’t 8 meetings with a cognitive-behavioral psychologist with tried and trusted methods to get rid of the symptom, where the solution isn’t a chemical straight-jacket –but rather with a Foucault and Bourdieu style analysis of the evolution of the DSM-IV, the relationship between therapeutic practice and insurance companies, the relationship between therapeutic practice and the legal system and work, an analysis of the statistical methods through which certain diagnostic categories are produced and generalized, and an analysis of the discourses through which certain attitudes towards life, the body, and mental health are produced. This sort of critique would potentially reveal something about American life in general, something un-thought and at the level of the unconscious in the structural or systematic sense, and would have potential for generating more active struggles, transforming what appear to be individual problems into collective symptoms. But alas, apparently psychoanalysis is the arch-enemy.

Read on
(more…)

I came across this article by Eugene Holland when looking for examples of schizoanalysis in practice for the reading group I participate in. As always, Holland’s writing is exceptionally clear and illuminating. The article is of special interest for the productive and congenial relations it draws between Lacanian psychoanalysis and Deleuze and Guattari’s work with Marx and historical modes of analysis. Well worth the read. It is also published in Paul Patton’s Deleuze: A Critical Reader. In my view there is often an unproductive opposition drawn between the work of Deleuze and Guattari and Lacan, where one is placed in the position of advocating one or the other. As can be observed from Zizek’s Organs Without Bodies, this is something that occurs among both Deleuzians and Lacanians. It seems to me that this opposition is mostly the result of the publication of Lacan’s seminar in the English speaking world. Anti-Oedipus was published in English in 1977. For many years we only had Lacan’s eleventh seminar (1977) and Ecrits: A Selection (1977). Work done in a “Lacanian” orientation tended to focus on the imaginary and the mirror-stage article, ignoring the real altogether, and espousing a high classical structuralism when discussing the symbolic. Very little was known about Lacan’s post-Seminar 11 work and how it undermined the claims of high structuralism with its claims that the big Other does not exist, that there is no Other of the Other, that there is no universe of discourse, and that the woman does not exist (indeed, Deleuze and Guattari’s assertion of “n-sexes” can be understood as falling squarely on the feminine side of the graphs of sexuation). The watershed moment that changed everything in “Lacanian studies” was the publication of Bruce Fink’s The Lacanian Subject (followed by the equally brilliant Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis and the forthcoming Fundamentals of Psychoanalytic Technique: A Lacanian Approach), Zizek’s Sublime Object of Ideology, and most importantly Lacan’s 20th seminar, Encore (1998). In addition to this, we now have seminar 17, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis, which Guattari attended during the writing of Anti-Oedipus and references throughout. Prior to this the image of Lacan was that of a somewhat reactionary apologist of the phallic order who had one concept: the imaginary. It comes as little surprise that English-speaking readers, given the choice between the rich conceptual universe of Deleuze and Guattari that draws tools from Marx, Nietzsche, psychoanalysis, Freud, Lacan, Klein, Foucault, linguistic, the natural sciences, etc., etc., would have tended to look down their nose at what was then Lacanianism. As access to the unpublished seminars has become available– nearly all of them are translated at this point –and we’ve begun to learn more about Lacan’s work from the 60s on, it becomes possible to tell a very different story and perhaps undermine some of the reigning sterile oppositions haunting the world of theory.